Heavy vehicles / Rules & compliance / Heavy vehicle compliance & enforcement

The Heavy Vehicle Compliance and Enforcement Review explores how to better encourage and promote compliance with the law

Heavy vehicle compliance & enforcement

The NTC’s Heavy Vehicle Compliance Review acknowledges the importance of compliance with heavy vehicle laws for the safety of all road users, protection of the network and well-being of the community. The review, completed in 2014, recognises that where compliance fails, enforcement of the law is essential.

The review looked at how and why non-compliance occurs, and the appropriate response to these motivations. Specifically, the review focused on:

  • approaches to compliance and their effectiveness in different circumstances
  • why non-compliance occurs
  • how compliance can best be achieved and supported
  • gateway and preventative mechanisms for achieving compliance
  • the effectiveness of different enforcement tools
  • chain of responsibility as a mechanism for achieving compliance.

The review’s findings are based on research, discussions, stakeholder feedback and formal submissions about the ongoing compliance and enforcement strategies of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).


Laws and policies introduced since the 1970s have resulted in significant improvements in road safety outcomes.

Until the early 1990s the approach to heavy vehicle compliance was largely command and control. This approach focused on detecting and punishing directly observed non-compliance and includes enforcement approaches such as fines, defect notices, demerit points, restrictions on business, and revocation of the right to drive or to property.

NTC reviews of compliance policy revealed the limitation of these approaches to enforcement. Research from behavioural psychology suggests the reasons for non-compliance may be far more complex than considered by those approaches.

The result is a more responsive approach to regulation, which considers what motivates non-compliance and elicits a response proportionate to the risk posed and the context of the particular circumstances. It has also resulted in options for alternative compliance, such as accreditation schemes.

The NTC (Road Transport Legislation – Compliance and Enforcement Bill) Regulations 2006, is evidence of a changed approach to compliance and enforcement. This bill introduced the concept of chain of responsibility, which recognises that off-road parties may have a role in influencing on-road behaviours. Chain of responsibility applies responsibility to off-road parties and allows for them to be held accountable where they have influenced non-compliance.

In 2007 the NTC released the National Heavy Vehicle Enforcement Strategy Proposal, which intended to:

  • increase the use of intelligence-driven enforcement
  • promote consistent, effective and efficient enforcement practices
  • increase cooperation and understanding between industry and enforcement agencies
  • recommend specific and appropriate training for enforcement officers
  • increase cooperation and information sharing by enforcement agencies.

In 2009 Ministers decided that the strategy should complement the COAG heavy vehicle reform agenda. As a result, the project was revived in 2011 with the development of the HVNL.

The Intergovernmental Agreement on Heavy Vehicle Regulatory Reform, signed by ministers in August 2011, made compliance and enforcement, including alternative compliance schemes, chain of responsibility and speeding compliance – fundamentals of the national law. As a result, these concepts have been incorporated into the HVNL.


Last Updated: 15/11/2018